On a damp and gloomy June evening it was great to see almost double the number of riders turn up for the Martin Greenwood memorial time trial this year. It means so much to a lot of people in the local cycling community I hope it continues for years to come.

With the birth of my first child I’ve struggled to compete in the evenings for last few months. This is one of my favourite events of the season though so I had to make an exception! I rode the course quicker than last year but sadly wasn’t able to defend my trophy. Placing third overall behind a super strong Dave Allonby, and an absolutely flying Adam Hartley.

The weather in the hours building up to the start time would be best described as ‘off putting’. So again it’s great so many came along to test themselves on a slippery, undulating 16 mile course on a Tuesday evening.

This year HQ was at Longridge Cricket Club. A much better location as the finish line is directly opposite! There’s showers, changing facilities, and even a bar for post-race banter.


This years course

Due to road works the course was shortened this year. It meant we skipped the first ‘kicker’ of a climb out of Longridge; a short but punchy and is a good test of pacing. Getting too excited there means the legs will take the sting out of the legs later.

With the heavy rain earlier in the day, and the continuing drizzle some of the corners and shaded areas (especially downhill) were a bit sketchy. The worst of which being a sharp right-hander on a bridge at the foot of a very fast dip. Made worse by the fact you want to hold as much speed as possible because on the other side is the biggest climb of the circuit!

course

This years ride

Overall I rode the same part of the course about 50 seconds quicker this year than last. I’m happy with the improvement considering last year I was riding in glorious sunshine on a warm evening. I also put out 5 watts less this year, so tweaks to my position obviously worked!

That said, this year I’m kinda tired. And I also suffered a bit of bad luck. Yes, I’ve already got a list of excuses lined up. And no, I’m never happy with my performance! I need to work on that. It’s frustrating things not going right, but all you can do is your best on the day. Excuses aside I don’t think the results would’ve been affected. Just a bit closer perhaps.

My ride started well. I felt strong, comfortable in my position, and like I was managing the effort well. The first half of the ride is undulating but trends downhill. When the road kicked up I was able to stay on top of my gearing with a nice high cadence, whilst keeping momentum and power up.

Coming into the main climb I was beginning to feel the effort but was confident I had just enough left to dig in for the next few minutes. Then hang on to the finish. I was right, so had paced things well. I climbed at around 300-340w depending on how steep it was. Not bad considering I had just over 20 minutes of Threshold riding in the legs by that point.

During the climb the visor on my helmet steamed up so I could barely see. It’s also around that time it started raining. With grey clouds looming overhead it became surprisingly dark, and by the time I had crested the hill and was on my way down ‘could barely see’ went to ‘couldn’t see a thing’.

I had to use the white line on the road as best I could to gauge where I was. I had no idea if I was about to hit a corner, how fast I could go, or if there were any obstacles in my way. I know my speed suffered from this point onwards. The only way I could see even a little was by tilting my head up and looking through tiny vents in my visor. Head up in the wind is *not* the way to ride a time trial.

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Head in the air like this isn’t how I planned to ride! But it was either that or crash.

It’s about this point when things went from bad to worse.

I hit a grid in the middle of the road hard. I just didn’t see it. This knocked my saddle down and I was forced to ride the last few miles in a rather awkward position! After finding myself on the wrong side of the road only when a cars headlights appeared in front of me I decided I’d had enough and tried to pull off the visor and chuck it into the nearest hedge!

I didn’t manage to get the visor off, but I did give it a good wipe. God knows why I hadn’t already thought to do so! Too focussed on the effort I suppose.

cadence

As you can see all of that faffing around threw me off. I had pedalled almost constantly up until the part highlighted above. Not pedalling means not producing any power, which in turn obviously means I’m slowing down. Pair that with the forced upright position and I think I lost a fair few seconds.

The last few miles I pushed on as best I could though. The legs at this point felt surprisingly good! I did well over 300w for the last part of the ride, and really probably could’ve pushed that for much longer.

It’s a while since I’ve ridden a Time Trial and I had a lot of fun. I can’t wait to ride this course again next year. For an even better time, and who knows? A chance to reclaim the trophy!


Photos of the race by Ellen Isherwood

Martin Greenwood Memorial Hilly TT